St. Ann’s Warehouse Announces its Season

And it looks fantastic! Season includes to return engagements and some really great new stuff:

Return engagements:

The National Theatre of Scotland’s Black Watch

Mabou Mines’ DollHouse

World Premieres

Dan Hurlin’s Disfarmer

Cynthia Hopkins’s The Success of Failure  (Or, the Failure of Success)

and the U.S. Premiere of

The Wooster Group’s La Didone

Complete info after the jump.


Black Watch

October 9- November 30, 2008

St. Ann’s Warehouse is partnering with the National Theatre of Scotland again to present a two-month return engagement of the play that Ben Brantley of the New York Times called “one of the most richly human works of art to have emerged from this long-lived war” and “an essential testament to the abiding relevance – and necessity – of theater.” Having sold out a limited run of Black Watch within days of its opening last fall, St. Ann’s Warehouse will present 61 performances of the play this fall.

Written by Gregory Burke and directed by John Tiffany, Black Watch is a Scottish Army regiment’s eye-view of the war in Iraq. The production takes audiences to the battlefield with a poetic power beyond the grasp of journalism, film or television. The action veers seamlessly and imaginatively between pub-set interviews and in-the-moment deployment scenes, careening between past and present with hallucinatory immediacy to a live musical score that includes regimental folk songs and bagpipes. The physicality of Black Watch is extraordinary, intimately portraying how members of this historic regiment dealt with an intense tour of duty in Iraq, as well as how they made the journey home again.

St. Ann’s Warehouse is the only theater in New York that can physically accommodate Black Watch, which requires a vast, open space that can be configured to represent an esplanade, with the audience seated on risers along both sides. But St. Ann’s also provides audiences with a singularly intimate experience of the drama, being among the smallest venues Black Watch has played.

Black Watch topped the 2007 year-end lists of The New York Times, New York Magazine, The New York Sun, Newsweek, The New York Observer, The New Jersey Star Ledger and others. Since the play made its debut in the Edinburgh Festival in 2006, it has received critical plaudits wherever it has gone: Los Angeles, New York, London, Australia and New Zealand, among other cities. Scotland’s Sunday Herald pronounced it “a cultural landmark of the 21st Century.” The New York Observer deemed it the “contemporary equivalent to Joan Littlewood’s legendary O What A Lovely War.” The New York Sun described Black Watch as “the 21st century’s…first worthy addition to the war canon…a list that includes Wilfred Owen and “Paths of Glory,” Britten’s “War Requiem” and Dylan’s “Masters of War.”



January 27-February 8, 2009

St. Ann’s Warehouse will present the World Premiere of Disfarmer, Dan Hurlin’s first new object theater work since his award-winning puppet-theater piece, Hiroshima Maiden, which premiered at St. Ann’s Warehouse in 2003. Of that production, The Los Angeles Times said, “Gracefully negotiated eloquence lingers well after the lights come up on this enthralling, sobering shadow play.”

Disfarmer is inspired by the forty-year career (1917—1946) of portrait photographer Mike Disfarmer, who for decades shunned his family and neighbors while operating the only portrait studio for miles around Heber Springs, Arkansas. Using glass plate photography long after it was obsolete, Disfarmer built a special darkroom to house his camera, so both photographer and subject were alone in the instant the photo was taken. When 4,000 of his negatives surfaced in the 1970s, Disfarmer’s photos were recognized as a stunning achievement, with their exquisite artistry, profound empathy and invaluable documentation of a vanishing way of life.

Hurlin’s Disfarmer recreates a visceral sense of the photographer’s interior and exterior worlds, illuminating the contradictions in the life of this American hermit whose intimate and revealing portraiture documented an entire community.

Alone but not despairing, longing but not lonely, Disfarmer is represented in Hurlin’s work by a series of puppets, each an exact reprint of the last, except 2 inches smaller. During the course of the play, Disfarmer shrinks like the rest of rural America, until he is completely gone, and we are left with the quiet and nervous expectancy of standing perfectly still for a long exposure. Using the direct manipulation style of American puppetry known as “table-top puppetry” and antique optical techniques like Magic lantern slides and 8mm home movies, five puppeteers show us Disfarmer in his studio as he categorizes his every possession, barricades himself from the outside world, and compulsively measures constantly expanding distances between things.

Set to oddly funny music from old Edison Wax disks and haunting Ozark mountain music, re-contextualized by Dan Moses Schreier, and with text by playwright Sally Oswald, Disfarmer is a portrait of a portrait artist.



February 12-March 9, 2009

To mark the fifth anniversary of its premiere at St Ann’s Warehouse, Mabou Mines’ DollHouse triumphantly returns to the venue following a long world tour.

Based on Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, Mabou Mines’ production transforms bourgeois tragedy into high comedy of operatic proportions with deep political and emotional bite. DollHouse is a standout work in writer/director Lee Breuer’s celebrated career of reinventing classics with such masterpieces as Peter and Wendy, the Gospel at Colonus and the gender-reversed Lear.

Breuer turns Ibsen’s mythic feminist “anthem” on its head by physicalizing the equation of power and scale.

The male characters are played by actors whose heights range from 3’4″ to 4’5″, while the female characters are played by actors nearly 6’ tall. They perform on a dollhouse set with child-sized furniture. Eve Beglarian’s score, a collage of Edvard Grieg’s piano works and original classical opera, accompanies each scene silent movie-like, while Martha Clarke’s choreography further deconstructs the melodrama’s posturing into dance.

In the five years since its premiere at St. Ann’s Warehouse, Mabou Mines’ DollHouse has earned rave reviews all over the world. In a five-star review, London’s The Times said, “Ibsen will never be the same. Would that all classics could be so searchingly but lovingly re-examined.” Le Monde called the show “one of those moments for which one searches, night after night, and which one will not forget for a long time;” The Chicago Tribune agreed that he production is “absolutely not to be missed;” and The New York Times said, “The whole experience is so fascinating, thrilling here, confounding there that it must be seen.”


La Didone

March 17-April 26, 2009

St. Ann’s Warehouse presents the U.S. premiere of The Wooster Group’s La Didone, the seminal company’s distinctive take on Francesco Cavalli’s baroque opera, libretto by Giovanni Francesco Busenello (1641).

In the opera, Aeneas, prince of Troy, lands on the shores of Africa after a violent sea storm. There he falls in love with Dido, queen of Carthage, and becomes entangled in a web of love, deception, power and madness.

Leaping forward in time, Mario Bava’s 1965 cult movie Terrore nello spazio crashes the spaceship Argos on the planet Aura, where its crew becomes locked in a desperate battle with zombies over the all-important “meteor rejector.”

The Wooster Group, in signature fashion, stirs these two Italian cultural artifacts together, dropping Aeneas’ ships onto a forbidding planetary landscape, setting the lute alongside electric guitar, blending acoustic and electronic space, and finding an unexpected synergy between early baroque opera and pre-moonlanding sci-fi.

The result is a 21st-century retelling of an ancient tale about the destructive (and redemptive) power of erotic passion and the sheer tenacity of human nature in the face of annihilation.

Directed by Elizabeth LeCompte, with music direction by Bruce Odland, the cast of La Didone includes Hai-Ting Chinn (mezzo soprano), Ari Fliakos, Jennifer Griesbach (keyboard), Hank Heijink (theorbo, baroque guitar), Andrew Nolen (bass), Kamala Sankaram (soprano, accordian), Scott Shepherd, Harvey Valdes (electric guitar), Kate Valk, Judson Williams, and John Young (tenor).

La Didone marks a return to St. Ann’s Warehouse for The Wooster Group, following limited previews of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet (2007, before its opening at The Public) and runs of The Emperor Jones (2006), House/Lights (2005), Brace Up! (2003), and To You, the Birdie! (Phèdre) (2002).


The Success of Failure (or, the Failure of Success)

With Jim Findlay and Jeff Sugg

Directed by D.J. Mendel

May 22-June 7, 2009

Over the course of several years, St. Ann’s Warehouse has fostered the development of Cynthia Hopkins’ highly acclaimed Accidental Trilogy, in which the New York-based artist has explored themes of amnesia (pros and cons), remembrance (pros and cons), and shifting identity (the malleability of consciousness within one and over the course of multiple lifetimes) through a seamless integration of video, set design, lighting, music, text and movement.

Conceived as Part III of the Trilogy, The Success of Failure (or, The Failure of Success) serves as both prequel and sequel to Parts I (Accidental Nostalgia) and II (Must Don’t Whip ‘Um). Like its predecessors, The Success of Failure will have its New York Premiere at St. Ann’s Warehouse. And like those works, Hopkins’ newest creation will be multi-faceted in both structure and content, incorporating elements of scientific and autobiographical truth as well as fiction.

An epic folk tale from the far distant future, The Success of Failure depicts the heroic saga of Ruom Yes Noremac’s secret mission to save the world. During the course of her lonely journey through space, Ruom Yes Noremac realizes that only by failing to save the Earth can she succeed in saving “The Universe.”

Once again teaming up with designers Jim Findlay and Jeff Sugg, and director D.J. Mendel, Cynthia Hopkins delivers a far-out conclusion to The Accidental Trilogy with this spellbinding adventure into the future of our Universe. This inter-galactic tale is told through Hopkins’s signature hybrid of storytelling forms, including text, heart-wrenching songs, innovative orchestral environments, and immersive, handcrafted videoscapes.

As in Parts I and II, music will play a critical role throughout The Success of Failure, showcasing Hopkins’s unique sound and extraordinary talents: She is a versatile composer, graceful lyricist, and accomplished performer on piano, accordion, guitar, saw, and vocals. The music in The Success of Failure will follow Hopkins’s distinctive approach, which has been termed “ethereal, demanding, exuberant rock” by Time Out New York, among many other champions in the press.

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